MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Rossi is a poet, Márquez is Hendrix
As MotoGP heads to Jerez for the first classic event of the year, the red and yellow fans will be out in force. Let’s hope for a good-natured weekend
MotoGP is in a great place right now. Every other weekend we get to watch arguably the two greatest riders of all time and now we go to Jerez, where the febrile crowd sends goose-bumps down your spine.
It’s a brilliant era. I look forward to going to races now as much as I did when we rocked up to watch the Schwantz versus Rainey show, which included some great battles at Jerez, both on and off the racetrack.
Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey didn’t get on, but at least their teams made sure they always had a good time after races. “We weren’t all friends but on Sunday nights everybody went out and had team dinners,” Schwantz recalls. “So the teams would end up bumping into each other and the boys would end up at the bar, having beers, telling war stories: ‘I’m gonna kick your ass next weekend!’ and ‘well, whatever, you kick my ass if you think you can!’
“Jerez was a classic example – there’s a little restaurant near the track [the Mesón la Cueva], so Honda is in there having a party, my team are downstairs eating dinner and so are Rainey’s Yamaha team, so after we go talk to the Yamaha guys and we’re saying, hey, let’s go and screw with the Honda guys. Next thing you know we’re throwing shit at them – it’s a full-on food fight, drinks being thrown, trash cans being thrown. Racing has lost that now…”
Too right. Racing has changed in so many ways in the last quarter of a century: it’s more competitive, more aggressive, more lucrative, more corporate, more everything. Some of the changes have been good, others not so good.
The only really bad development is a minority of fans booing riders: Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez, once again at COTA last week. Twenty-five years ago Schwantz fans didn’t boo Rainey and Rainey fans didn’t boo Schwantz. Everyone gazed in wonder and went home with memories that will stay with them forever.
I just don’t get the booing. In fact, it makes me sick. And it makes the whole of pit lane sick, all the way from the Aprilia garage to the Suzuki garage. The teams work hard to put on a show and can’t wait for the race, just like the rest of us. The booing sours their weekend.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.